As you could probably guess, the cities would be doomed.
Researchers justify studying this abnormal and hypothetical situation of a zombie outbreak because they know their results could potentially be very practical.
Researchers use very similar models to understand real-world diseases and how they might spread.
Public health researchers, for example, enjoy playing out these kinds of scenarios because ultimately they help to improve people’s general knowledge regarding how diseases spread. Even the well-renowned CDC (Center for Disease Control) has a “Zombie Preparedness” page on their website.
An in-depth discussion of a fictional zombie outbreak officially began after a team of Cornell University researchers read World War Z and became inspired to research how an actual zombie outbreak would unfold in the United States.
Should we ever experience a true zombie apocalypse, those in the big cities would be most at risk, according to findings presented at the American Physical Society March meeting in 2015.
It’s no surprise that you’d be at an advantage if you started off farther away from people. You can’t get infected by infected people if there are no people around to infect you. Simple. The Rocky Mountains would be safe, whereas New York City…not so much.
Cornell University graduate Alex Alemi and fellow researchers utilised conventional disease models to predict the zombie infection-rate around the US, of course under the assumption that humans become infected by a zombie bite.
In order to be as realistic as possible, the team assumed zombies wouldn’t die naturally but rather by a good hit to the head – and their only mode of transportation would be by walking.
This method of prediction allowed the researchers to imitate how epidemiologists determine the spread of other viruses. However, these researchers were guided by scenarios unique to zombies. For example, if there was a zombie apocalypse, there would also probably be a transportation infrastructure collapse.
Taking a certain amount of randomness into consideration, the research team created an interactive model that allows you to simulate a zombie outbreak. This model allows you to be able to pick a starting point, a zombie-bite to zombie-kill ratio, and other details such as whether the zombies are fast or slow.
In a press release, Alemi added, “We could attempt to add more complicated social dynamics to the simulation, such as allowing people to make a run for it, include plane flights, or have an awareness of the zombie outbreak.”
You can see in this GIF what a zombie outbreak would look like in New York City in the course of 24 hours.